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POLITICS

Should farmers be authorized to pay farmhands in citizenship

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

The farm industry is crying pretty loud these days that they don’t have enough labor. Well, I don’t have enough rooms in my house for all my kids. Is there a “bedroom shortage” in Montgomery County, or is it just that five-bedroom houses costs more than I am willing to pay for a house?

California has very high unemployment, and so my brother John Carney at CNBC has been pointing out for a while that talk of a “farm labor shortage” is really farm-owners griping that farm wages are getting too high for their liking.

And then it gets more interesting, John reports:

So what should farms do to attract labor?

“US farmers will need to offer higher wages to induce new workers to migrate northward to US farm jobs,” write Taylor and Charlton.

But the farm lobby has another idea. Instead of paying the workers larger shares of farm revenues, they want to pay them with citizenship.

“Farm lobbyists and elected officials are discussing remedies that include granting legal status to more than 1 million undocumented farmworkers in the United States and establishing an expanded guest worker visa program for agriculture to ensure a steady supply of laborers,” Hecht reports.

From the point of view of farm owners, the nice thing about granting legal residency to farm workers is that they get to increase the value of a laborer’s compensation without increasing what the farm owner has to pay. The farm profits stay private but the labor costs are socialized.

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